He achieved commercial success outside Hawaii when his album Facing Future was released in It was subsequently featured in several films, television programs and television commercials. The notable Hawaiian musician Moe Keale was his uncle and a major musical influence.
"One Take, and It Was Over"
Who was Israel Kamakawiwo'ole?
His joyful version of the ballad has appeared on the soundtrack of several movies, TV programs and commercials, and he's so influential in Hawaiian music he's considered "the voice of Hawaii. To the sound of his iconic version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, the animated video Doodle features pieces of kapa, traditional Hawaiian fabric made from plant fibers and decorated with linear designs created with dyes extracted from native Hawaiian plants. In , as many Hawaiians were rediscovering their language and culture, the teenage Iz formed the band Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau with his brother and three friends, playing a blend of contemporary and traditional styles. They toured Hawaii and the mainland US and released 15 successful albums.
Our favorite Google Doodles through the years
In his teens, Israel, his brother, and three friends dug deep into the traditional sounds of the islands. Together, they achieved huge popularity across fifteen albums. But Israel is so much more than one song; with his band and successful solo career, he redefined popular Hawaiian music through his own unique style and spread his love for the islands around the world. Below, they share their thoughts on his legacy. Having Google create a Doodle for his 61st birthday gives us all reason to again celebrate his life and impact on millions worldwide. Israel spent his summers there with grandparents learning the life lessons of the early Hawaiians who practiced the ancient ways. Israel broke out on his own in after releasing two solo albums while still performing with the group , and the rest is history. He recorded three solo CDs between and his death in , which have allowed for four posthumous releases.
On Wednesday, May 20, , Google celebrated Asian Pacific American Heritage Month , on what would have been his 61st birthday, with a two-minute animated music video directed by Sophie Diao set to Kamakawiwo'ole's most famous song: A ukelele cover of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," first made famous by Judy Garland for the movie The Wizard of Oz. While Kamakawiwo'ole remains an icon for Hawaiians and Hawaiian music, the story of how he recorded his most popular song — over million streams on Spotify — is nothing short of legendary. Israel Kamakawiwo'ole was a Hawaiian singer born in Honolulu in He grew up on the island Ni'ihau, which to this day remains the only island with a percent Hawaiian population and cannot be visited without an invitation from a resident. It was here, where Kamakawiwo'ole spent summers with his grandparents, grew deeply connected to his Hawaiian heritage. Because of his musical family — who were friends with legends like Peter Moon and Don Ho — Kamakawiwo'ole was exposed to music at an early age. In a interview with NPR , musician and friend Del Beazley said the first time people heard Kamakawiwo'ole sing, which happened at a graduation party, the room "stopped. It's almost a nasal or head tone.